The Student Who Wasn’t A Lump of Wood – A Fairy Tale


Once upon a time, in a school far far away there was a lump of wood. He knew he was a lump of wood because all the teachers told him so. And they could prove it. They gave him work he couldn’t do, and so they told him he was a lump of wood. They would tell him things he wasn’t interested in, and when he couldn’t remember what he wasn’t interested in, they would tell him he was a lump of wood. After a while he believed the teachers, and when I first met him he told that he was a lump of wood.

The lump of wood grew up and left school. He didn’t go to university. Nevertheless, he managed to get the sort of job that lumps of wood get, and he managed to do the type of work that lumps of wood do. He enjoyed the work – working with other lumps of wood – and he found out that he was good at it. But it didn’t mean anything because it couldn’t be very good work or worthwhile work or meaningful work if it could be done by a lump of wood.


After many years of working he was asked by the kindly forester if he’d ever thought of doing something else. ‘How could I?’ he replied. ‘I am a lump of wood.’ But the kind forester thought differently and pushed the lump of wood into the light. ‘Let’s see what you can do’, he said.

So the lump of wood took the long walk up to the numbers castle where he would meet the numbers man. The numbers man looked like one of the teachers and the lump of wood was scared and unhappy. The numbers man gave the lump of wood some numbers to play with. And the lump of wood did the number man’s test, and he got all the answers wrong. The lump of wood knew that he would fail and he did. He’d been told he was a failure and he was. He was told he was a lump of wood and now he too could prove it. ‘I am a lump of wood’ he told the numbers man.


When the good forester heard the news he was very sad. Maybe he will always be a lump of wood after all, he thought. Maybe if I spoke to the numbers man something could be done about it.  So he spoke to the numbers man. Now the numbers man was very puzzled. The numbers man had seen lumps of wood before but he had never heard one talk. He had heard the dogs bark, and the had heard he birds sing in the branches of the trees, but he’d never heard a lump of wood talk. ‘Only people could talk’, he thought to himself. When the good forester spoke to the numbers man this is what he told him. A thing that can speak can’t be a lump of wood’, he said. ‘It must be a person. Lumps of wood are not allowed at the college but people are’. The numbers man stamped the paperwork and allowed the lump of wood on to the course.

Waves of wood

And came the day when the progress of the lump of wood was to be reviewed. ‘You have lied to me’ said the numbers man, pretending to be cross.

‘I have not!’ said the lump of wood, ‘how have I lied to you?’

‘You told me that you were a lump of wood, but here is the review of your progess and it gives you seven A grades out of seven! How can you be a lump of wood? It simply cannot be true’.

‘That’s magic’ said the student who used to be a lump of wood, and he beamed.

‘No it isn’t’, said the numbers man.


This is not a happy ending: this is a happy beginning

This post was written as a response to The Daily Prompt from WordPress. It is a true story.


Woods, by Thomas, taken on 15 January 2014, Flickr,, accessed 25th January 2015, CC-BY-ND 2.0

OTF_Chopped_Wood_13, by Brent Leimenstoll, taken on 17 June 2013, Flickr,, accessed 25th January 2015, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Wood, by tomdz, taken on 21 February 2009, Flickr,, accessed 25th January 2015, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Waves of Wood, by Betsle Nel, taken on 22 February 2014, Flickr,, accessed 25th January 2015, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Wood, by Jonas Merlan, taken on 4 November 2010, Flickr,, accessed 25th January 2015, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0


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